I woke early and had a lousy nap. Bolted awake after ten minutes, convinced I had a loose tooth. I don’t know where that came from.
Earlier that day: I was at the dentist, and the cleaner asked how I slept.
Oh no wait that’s probably where that came from. Right. It took a minute after waking to realize that if I had a loose tooth, it probably would have come up. Or out.
“Have you noticed a different feel on a tooth on the upper left?” The hygienist had asked. I said I had. A little extra sharpness. Figured they’d file it down or it would wear down over time; I’d already adjusted and did not bother it anymore.
Well, turns out I need a crown. Drat. Old filling, old tooth, needs a new lid. Fine. Okay, start poking and scraping; I’ll just listen to my audiobook.
“What are you listening to?” She asked.
“‘The Splendid and the Vile,’ about Churchill in World War Two.”
“Oh! Have you heard about ‘The Crown’?”
Now, I knew right away what she meant, but it was still an odd half-second there, the dentist’s office being a place in which that conversation can mean two different things, and the other had just come up a minute before. I should have said “I really don’t have any interest in the Crown,” and then never made an appointment to get the tooth fixed, and when she brought it up six months later I could say “I told how I felt about that.”
I was going through old papers, as is my wont. Wont-wise, it’s what I do. The news stories are rarely the main attraction, for me; it’s the stuff in the margins that sum up a time and place, even though they had no intention of doing anything but selling something.
This snagged my eye.
That guy from that commercial! Here! Doing dinner theater. Hey, he’s funny, everyone loved that commercial, let’s go see him.
He died five years ago at the age of 93. I would guess he was happy to have had a momentary vogue; a guy works his whole life, he’s grateful for something like this. Sure, you get tired of people coming up to you on the street and asking you to say it. C’mon, say it. Or maybe he was delighted to say it to anyone who asked, because it put bread on the table, and it made people happy.
Here’s the thing: everyone got the quote wrong.
He did the circuit. He was an MC. His father was the same: in this interview, he talks about how his dad invented the “comedy waiter” in the old days.
Milt Moss: Well, there would be very funny things. A man would say, "Waiter bring me a dinner roll." He'd put ten rolls on the table. "Waiter, which way to the men's room?" He'd say, "Come with me," and lead him outside and leave him on the street. He would stand in the middle of the room, let's say it was an affair of five hundred people. In the balcony there would always be a man with a big camera, you know, "Okay, hold it folks. Hold it, hold it, hold it folks!" He'd take a picture. What he'd have in his coat, his comedy coat, was a picture of a previous affair. When they finally did the, "Oh, folks, you've gotta see this!" My father would pull out the old thing and [charge everyone], "Okay, buck n' a quarter a copy! Buck n' a quarter a copy!" It'd be a big scream.
I do not entirely understand, but one phrase snagged:
His comedy coat.
A guy in that trade, he had a comedy coat.
From another interview about his dad:
The implication is that some comedy waiters did spread butter on neckties.
As for his local appearance on the Old Log Stage:
I can't believe I smoked the whole thing, I presume. More from Will:
The curse of the catchphrase. But while you can, you cash in. Until no one wants to hear the damned line again.
This sums up a particular time. I came in at the end of it, but they were familiar names.
Everyone's job was self-evident, it seems, but they had to tell you who Milt was. In case you wondered.
It’s 1963. On the menu: hats
This was kin to the Tareyton “fight than switch” ads, I think; the aftermath of someone who has faced a cigarette brand challenge. This fellow was so skeptical of filter cigarettes he made the old promise: hat consumption. And he lost!
The advertising push for Cottage Cheese was immense in the 50s and 60s.
It was for reducing. You had this, a wedge of peach, a hamburger patty without a bun, and you had them at the Woolworth counter while shopping downtown. Or at that new place they built in the potato fields. Come to think of it, why go downtown? Parking’s hard. The mall it is. The mall it will always be.
When a company takes a full-page ad in a major magazine to tout a marker, you know the consumer landscape isn’t as limitless as it seems today.
Sheaffer had the brand name. The next year a competitor would introduce the Sharpie. Game over.
People wanted a Sharpie, not a Smoothie.
Again, I must ask: why don’t we have this now? When did our catsup options diminish?
Nowadays you have catsup variations like “blend of veggies” and “sriracha,” but dang, hickory sounds good.
“Secret sugar frosting.” Patents may have been involved.
Note how Tony can be relegated to a tiny picture, but they’ll still use Grrrr-reat, because the assumption and connection by now is baked in.
The brief vogue for finger-sniffing
I am not sure any woman I’ve ever met would be interested in men who were really intrigued by the smell of their nails.
Newport: now with a meaningless shape that somehow connotes modernity
I wonder why they sold menthols with the color blue. Menthol tastes green. Perhaps they’d ceded that to Kool and knew there was no way of clawing that color back.
That will do for today, I hope. Thanks for your visit!